Every day, 10 million people take a flight somewhere in the world. That is a lot of people up in the skies at any given moment, and the chance for any number of medical disasters if someone has taken the wrong medication. To make your next flight go exactly as planned, these are the medications you should avoid taking.

The Plane Environment

On the face of it, a plane cabin is a completely safe place and flying is one of the safest modes of transport. But when you add the unique environmental conditions of a plane, passengers can put themselves at risk by taking certain medications.

Passenger planes are normally pressurised to the same atmospheric level found at 10,000 feet. At that higher altitude, the level of oxygen is much lower than when your feet are on the ground. Not only is the lack of oxygen a factor, but so is the increased risk of reduced blood flow from lack of movement and dehydration due to the lack of humidity. All of these factors can combine to form blood clots that block the flow of blood to vital organs and increase your risk of heart attack or stroke.

With that in mind, it is recommended to avoid the following medications…

Contraceptives And Hormone Based Medicines

With an already increased risk of blood clots, you don’t want to them take medication that can increase the chance further. The estrogen in contraceptives and hormone medications is thought to increase the risk of blood clots. While the risk is only minor, it is not worth testing how minor in these conditions.

If you have an increased risk of blood clots due to a health condition like diabetes, or if your doctor feels it is appropriate, you can be prescribed a medication to lower your risk levels.


Even if you have trouble sleeping on a plane, it is not recommended to take antihistamines as a remedy. Often antihistamines can depress your breathing. This is of course dangerous in an environment where the oxygen levels are already lower.

What To Do Before And During Your Flight

If you find that you still need to take any of these medications when you are due to fly, then consult your doctor for advice before your trip. They may say that the risk is minimal, or prescribe you an alternative to use instead.

When you are on the flight, drink plenty of water to keep you hydrated, and try to get up and move around to reduce the risk of blood clots. You can also do plenty of stretching in your seat.

Avoid drinking too much alcohol as its effects are increased in the air. Tea and coffee have lots of caffeine, so they can dehydrate you even more, not to mention they make it harder to sleep.

Regardless of your medication, you can still enjoy an overseas trip. Just make sure you take the appropriate steps to minimise your risks and always consult your doctor.